Fernandinho believes Manchester City showed the battling qualities they will need to end their Anfield hoodoo during the second half of Wednesday’s eventful 1-1 Champions League draw against Atalanta.
Pep Guardiola’s side led 1-0 at the interval thanks to Raheem Sterling’s sublime seventh-minute opener and should have made their superiority weigh more heavily, with Gabriel Jesus dragging a dismal penalty wide.
But Ederson was withdrawn before the restart due to a thigh injury and substitute goalkeeper Claudio Bravo’s first task was to pluck Mario Pasalic’s emphatic 49th-minute header from his net.
City struggled to regain their earlier rhythm as Gian Piero Gasperino’s men found a frenetic and effective tempo, and Bravo’s outing got worse when he was sent off for charging out of his area to foul Josip Ilicic.
That meant Kyle Walker being introduced as an emergency keeper – the right-back’s tentative save from Ruslan Malinovskiy’s free-kick bringing chants of “England’s number one” from the travelling supporters at San Siro.
“Ladsss! Don’t worry, I’ve got this!!!” pic.twitter.com/plNvgbKtaQ
— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) November 6, 2019
City held out for a 1-1 draw that left them five points clear at the top of Group C, their progress to the last 16 virtually assured as attention turns towards Sunday’s mouth-watering Premier League showdown with Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders are six points ahead of the reigning champions, who last won at Anfield in 2003.
“I think the main thing was the mentality of the guys,” said Fernandinho, who was again deployed at centre-back. “In difficult situations like this we have to stick together and we did.
“This is important because we are building a team to be champions and sometimes to be champions you have to play games like this.
“Now it is good because everybody is understanding what we are building.”
Guardiola reported Ederson’s thigh injury was “not big” but he is unsure whether his influential number one will be available to face Liverpool.
Irrespective of whether his fellow Brazil international recovers in time, Fernandinho feels City will try to end 16-and-a-half years of Merseyside frustration with confidence.
“The mentality is always try to win the game,” he added.
“There’s always a first time in life, no? We are searching for this first time to win at Anfield. I am confident we can go there and try to win the game.
“Of course, we will see with Ederson’s situation. We are going to train and the medical staff are going to check him and we are going to see if he will be fit or not for Sunday.”